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Photo courtesy of Oceanique.

In February, it’s all about the love…and the food. And maybe for me they are one and the same. After all, the direct route to the heart is through the stomach, right?

Bargains Galore

Chicago Restaurant Week is here and runs through Feb. 12 (yes, I can count—it’s actually two weeks). Now is your chance to check out the restaurants you’ve been meaning to get to, because over 250 restaurants are participating with special prix fixe menus ($22 and $33 at lunch; $33 and $44 at dinner). My personal favorites include Quince, Bistro Bordeaux and Oceanique in Evanston, and Ada Street, Balena, Big Jones, La Sirena Clandestina and Nico Osteria in the city.

Not to be outdone, Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau have proclaimed February Restaurant MONTH (except for Valentine’s Day, because no restaurant needs extra business on that day). With 60 restaurants to choose from, you have plenty of options. Visit Avli in Winnetka for a $40, four-course dinner; Roka Akor at Westfield Old Orchard offers a free appetizer or dessert with entrée purchase. Other restaurants offer 15 percent off the guest check (The Cellar at the Stained Glass in Evanston, BurgerFi and The Curragh Irish Pub in Glenview and Francesca’s North in Northbrook, to name a few). February is a great month to eat out and support our local restaurants.

Beer Equals Love

Looking for a little romance, but don’t want to fight the hordes on the 14th? Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. offers “An Affair to RememBEER” on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. Exec Chef Grant Carey and Head Brewer Brad Pulver feature a Valentine’s Day theme that will focus on pairing beers with desserts and “a selection of savory bites.” Tickets are $35.

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Restaurant Openings

New in Winnetka: Taste on Chestnut has opened; rumor has it the salads and pastas are delish. Look for my review next month.

New in Evanston: A northern outpost of Wicker Park’s popular Bangers and Lace. Look for menu favorites like Squash Croquettes, Tempura Pickles, Cassoulet and “Meats on a Plate;” and of course, the sausages, from venison to goat.

New Restaurant Reservation Alternative

I’ve been using Open Table for a while now; I’m a fan of making reservations online. But a new site, Top-Top, has entered the market with a different model. It’s the place to access reservations for some of Chicago’s top restaurants when you don’t want to plan weeks in advance. These are prime-time tables that wouldn’t otherwise be available on Open Table, opened week-of and available when you want them. They charge a booking fee of $2.50 per diner; there is no cost to the restaurants (which include Sixteen at the Trump, Nellcôte, Jellyfish and others). I’m intrigued. Perhaps Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to test how it works.

Supper Club Romance

Take a trip back to the past at PM Prime‘s Supper Club (310 Green Bay Road, Highwood, 847-433-0600), which will run on Wednesdays and Thursdays through the month of February from 5-10 p.m. Walk through the door and rejoin the era of martinis, sharp suits and Sinatra’s Rat Pack. Exec Chef Dominic Zumpano honors classic American cuisine with ’60s Supper Club favorites: Prime Rib, Oysters Rockefeller, French Onion Soup and more. Entrees start at $19. The full a la carte menu will still be available.

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